photos by Andrew Sorsdahl
words by Christopher James Vasseur
The street is empty. There are not many cars around which is unusual for a Saturday night in a music soaked city like Saskatoon. We casually walk down to the Capitol Music Club. I’m here to see an artist called Dillon Currie, and I’ve heard some great things.
We have ten minutes or so before the doors are unlocked, I like being ridiculously early so I can get the best middle aged seats in the house.
I am excited to use my freshly printed NSMZ press for the first time to walk in the front door of the Capitol. These passes are very cooly designed and laminated to a hearty piece of plastic. I’m excited to finally get to show mine to every single person I pass, Wayne’s World style. I wanna scream “firsties” as it’s us and bands and the stage crew alone in the bar. The nice thing about being middle aged in the music scene is you always get there early enough to get the best seats. In my case, that’s right by the fire pit.
Tonight's opener, Marissa Burwell, is setting up her merch at the front and I see Colin Klassen at the soundboard. I pass Aspen Beveridge on the way in & he assures me it’s going to be a killer show having just heard (and played in one) both bands sound check. I see his parents arrive shortly after us, smart folks. Bet they get great seats.
Dillon Currie himself shows up next, he and Burwell introduce themselves pretty close to where we are sitting by the lovely faux flames. It’s a small scene so it’s neat to see bigger name artists who haven’t met yet.
I see Bryce Lewis sitting at a table up by the stage, he’s one of the provinces best guitar pickers and I’m sure hoping he’s playing tonight.
Next I see Chris Valleau of The Steadies come in for the show. Already some great players are amassing which is always a good sign for a show in these parts. I annihilate a plate of wings and settle in by the fire to people watch as the Capitol slowly gets busier.
There was a bit of a scramble earlier in the day as our photographer for the evening, Aaron Brown, fell ill and had to cancel this evening's shoot. After scrambling a bit, Aaron convinces friend and Prehistoric Productions founder Andrew Sorsdahl to step in. I chat with him a bit before the show and am quickly convinced we are in more than capable hands.
Burwell is on stage and singing before I notice the show has started. The Capitol may be slow to fill tonight but Burwell sounds amazing. She’s strumming a simple guitar melody and letting her powerful and smoky voice do the heavy lifting. Her song “Scaredy Cat” is a playlist favorite of mine so I’m pretty excited to finally catch her live.
She hails from Regina but we don’t hold that against her, her soulful voice once again fills the room as she busts out her second song. She’s promoting a new EP called “Either Way.”
Her guitar playing suits her voice nicely. She's plucking away on a tiny acoustic Gretsch and it sounds great. Her song “Coward” is an early favorite. Her songs are catchy but not trendy. Her voice and guitar playing interweave nicely and I’m wondering how she would sound with a full band. She plays her last song, it’s about her cat. But it’s not the scaredy one I was hoping for. Beautiful nonetheless, Burwell warms up the small crowd effectively with quiet charm and beautiful songs.
I pass Paul Kuzbic on the way out. Currie has been recording out at Skull Creek which is where Kuzbic “basically just moved in” according to Carolyn Beveridge. He and Aspen are in a band called Haunt Era which I quite like. He sits at the bar with Jamie Peever. It’s crazy how many talented people are in this very intimate crowd. Thanksgiving is the obvious culprit for the tiny attendance here, a busy weekend for events.
Outside I meet up with my partner in crime for the evening and he tells me of some of the cool stuff Prehistoric has coming up including a short film that will heavily feature the Saskatchewan music scene. I’ll be following along on their socials to keep up with that one for sure.
League of Wolves is a name I’ve heard much of since moving here. Currie is one of the founding members of that band with childhood friends including Aspen Beveridge (Beveridge also recorded his solo effort, “Vines of Time”at Skull Creek) and newer member, Capitol co-owner Leot Hanson. I’m pretty excited for this show as the talent associated with Currie is a who's who of the music community here.
As I saunter back from my outdoor meeting, Keiffer McLean & the Curiosity Club surprise me as I thought this was a two act show (clearly I can't be bothered to read the posters plastered all over town). Bryce Lewis is up there on stage and they start things off with my very favorite Leonard Cohen song, “Suzanne”.
Keys, Lewis’ tele and McLean's own smooth voice (acoustic guitar too) fill the room and this cover is wonderful. Worth the “price of admission” as they say. Lewis accentuated the beautiful story song with precision and grace. Great song covered expertly. A few more people start to trickle in. The voice coming from the stage is not unlike Rufus Wainwright and my partner Jess and I are digging it a ton.
The stage banter is warm and funny, my partner translates it perfectly as I sometimes hear it as the adult voices from Charlie Brown.
I really dig this band. His voice is really what sells it, similar to Burwell. The three piece are warm and trippy. Cosmic and folky. He starts to whistle and I am hooked. McLean says it’s Lewis’ second show. Then they play a George Jones song and I’m done. If I had a record company I’d sign these guys on the spot. His voice is a cross between Wainwright, Tyler Childers and someone else I can’t quite place.
Lewis once again interrupts my train of thought with another sweet little telecaster rip. He plays with Blake Berglund, Belle Plaine and is signed to Colter Walls record label, LaHonda Records. He also has a great record of guitar tracks called “Saskatchewan Country Guitar”. He's also from my hometown, good old Swift Current. So, I’m a fan if you couldn't tell.
The next song once again showcases this new talent's wonderful voice. I could listen to him sing all night. Great band. More whistling fills the room and I’m reminded of a Tarantino movie for some reason.
They finish and we settle back into the full hum of the room. It’s about half full now with some more people trickling in. I’m buzzing on the recently finished trio as the headliner takes the stage.
“My Town” starts from the Dillon Currie band and they sound so great right off the bat. Beveridge is up there on guitar as is Kuzbic which is a cool surprise. I recognize another Swifty on bass, Currie is one too. We’re everywhere.
The five piece groove into a song called “Higher Than the Clouds”. The harmonies and guitar work are quite extraordinary and the small but attentive crowd is enamored. As am I, it's a great song, reminiscent of The Byrds. Dillon thanks The Capitol and names it as a bucket list stage to play to great applause.
As a guitar nerd I am so impressed. The sound created by combining Currie’s acoustic, Beveridge’s hollow body and Kuzbic's red electric is astounding. Add super tight bass & drums keeping down the low end and you have yourselves a really great poppy stoner rock band. Not to use labels.
Currie thanks the two great artists before him and goes into a song not from the album (an almost one, a b-side cutting room floor gem).
If this one didn’t make the cut, I’m pretty stoked to hear the rest of the full record. I came into this one blind because that's a fun way for me to experience new music with no prior influence. I was definitely not disappointed and I genuinely feel bad for the people who decided to spend time with their families rather than come enjoy all these great bands
Currie switches to electric and introduces the band.
“Mary Anne” is next and again, that combo of guitars is so great. The vocals are sounding more and more like they are plucked straight from Haight/Ashbury circa 1960 something. It is a bit different though, perhaps Sasky Ashbury. Or whatever you want to call the cool thing happening in these parts for music these days.
I notice that Aspen pours his soul into the microphone with every vocal and I love it. Such passion is catchy and you can tell as the crowd is vibing.
A song called “White Lies” is next. Currie is playing his new album in full which is a cool treat. I’m glad I came in blind and saw three amazing artists. This was a real treat. If you stayed home with your family… sorry, but it wasn't as fun… even if they fed you turkey.
Currie is a great talent and the band he has put together is very impressive. I can see this act on stage at some big festivals next summer. Great tunes, great vibe.
He announces the next song as the first song by on side B (track 5).
“A hard song to sing but an important one”. It sounds faintly like Sloan but the lyrics are more serious. He sings of the harm and legacy of the residential school system with a song called “In The Wild”. It’s hard to write songs like this, but very important and I’m a way bigger fan of his now for him doing so.
What a great night, what a musical treat. This is why I do the zine thing, the radio thing, this is why I make music, this is why I’m obsessed with music. Nights like these.
As we walk out I look back to the dance floor and notice it’s full. Almost no one is in their seats.
Great night, great show. I show the bouncer my pass once more on the way out.